Rev. Jose Luis Portillo – Executive Director, Proyecto Abrigo
Rev. Jose Luis Portillo is 1 of 10 children born and raised in Juarez, Mexico. He raised money for his family when he was a child by selling cigarettes and cigars on the streets of Juarez. He and his sister, Juana, received scholarships to go to Lydia Patterson Institute in El Paso, TX. There he learned English and heard God calling him to be a minister. He graduated from John Wesley Seminary in Monterrey, Mexico and was appointed to a church in Juarez. While he was there he invited volunteers to come and help build the church building. Those volunteers saw the people living in cardboard houses and asked how they might help. Through the help of Volunteers in Mission, Jose Luis began Operacion Hogar (Operation Home) in 1992 which used teams of volunteers from the United States to build concrete block houses for families living in cardboard houses. Most of the houses built are in Tierra Nueva, a community on the outskirts of Juarez. Jose Luis left Operacion Hogar in 1996 and founded Proyecto Abrigo, doing the same type of home building. Between these two organizations, Jose Luis has been responsible for building over 7000 houses since 1992.
Martin Lechuga – Associate Director, Proyecto Abrigo
Charles Harrison – Chair, Board of Directors
Charles Harrison has been actively involved in ministry since 1988. After leaving a career as a retail sales executive with a flagship department store chain, he served for 3 1/2 years in the area of Single’s Ministry. He then began working with Youth and Families in 1991. Charles currently serves as the executive director of YouthWorker Movement and is a professional youth ministry volunteer at his local church. Charles spends all of his free-time with his Life-Partner of 20+ years, Georgia M. Harrison. She is an ordained Deacon in the North Texas Conference and currently serves FUMC Wichita Falls where Charles is a member. Charles also especially enjoys spending time with his children, Ricky and Marisa.
Lisa Hamilton – Vice Chair, Board of Directors
Lisa Hamilton is a member of University Park UMC in Dallas, Texas. She works as a Certified Academic Language Therapist and a Licensed Dyslexia Specialist at Dallas Academy. She and her husband, Alan, have two children, Jordan age 6 and Jacob age 3. They are excited to take the boys on their first trip to Projecto Abrigo in the coming years, and they look forward to continuing their support of its wonderful ministry in Mexico.
Michele Hill – Treasurer, Board of Directors
Michele Hill lives in St. Louis, MO, where she attends Kirkwood United Methodist Church. She is active in the missions of KUMC, organizing and leading many programs over the past 13 years. Michele currently teaches English Language Learners in the Pattonville School District. Michele participated in her first mission trip to Juarez in 1995. Since then she has returned countless times as a team leader to build homes and to teach children’s programs. Michele has also participated in mission trips to Durango, Mexico, and Copper Canyon, as well as a mission trip to Nashville, TN, to help with reconstruction from flood damage. From 1998- 2002 Michele served Proyecto Abrigo as the Scheduling Coordinator. During this time, she lived with her family in El Paso, Texas. Michele and Juana Portillo taught English classes and month-long Vacation Bible School programs at Nuevo Pacto for the three years that Michele lived in El Paso. Both of her daughters, Jesse and Sophia, consider Juarez their second home and the Portillos their extended family.
Becky Neeley is a member of Stonebridge UMC in McKinney, TX. She is retired, working last as the Executive Director for the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Collin County, a program of trained volunteers who serve as advocates for abused and neglected children in the court system. Prior to that she worked as a caseworker supervisor of FOCAS in Dallas, TX. Becky has been married to her husband Dave for 46 years and they have three children and five grandchildren. Becky is an active community volunteer and has co-chaired Relay For Life in McKinney, the second largest Relay in the state of Texas.
Janet Hunt is the Director of Community Ministries at Suncreek UMC in Allen, Texas. Janet holds a degree from Texas Tech University in Human Development and Family Studies. After twenty years in youth ministry at four different churches Janet transitioned into her current job that focuses on missions and outreach. Janet has served on the Proyecto Abrigo board for over four years. In 2002 Janet started traveling to Mexico to help build homes. Since that time she has made over 60 trips and helped with the construction of over 100 homes. Janet and her mission partner and fellow board member, Rita, have also taken three trips with Nuevo Pacto to Copper Canyon to minister to the Tarahumara Indians. Janet is also involved in numerous local mission projects and takes yearly trips to help conduct English Camp in the Czech Republic. Janet is very involved with ZOE ministry in Kenya and has made three trips to visit the ministry and orphans in Africa. Janet has three children who have also traveled to Mexico to help build homes several times and they also have an overwhelming passion for the amazing ministry of Proyecto Abrigo.
Rita Thomas has been a member of Suncreek UMC in Allen, TX for over 15 years. She made her first trip to build a cinder block home in 2003 and fell in love with the people of Juarez and the ministry of Proyecto Abrigo. She has since made over 40 trips to Juarez to build homes and several trips to the Copper Canyon to take food/blankets to the Tarahumara Indians. In addition, Rita spent two months in Juarez in the fall of 2008 acting as a liasion/working with the U.S. teams to build homes, assisting in the medical/dental clinic, and participating in the construction of the Sublime Gracia church. Rita has two grown children who have also made numerous trips to Juarez and share her love of this ministry.
Rev. Marc Corazao
Born in Lima, Peru and raised in Houston, Texas, Marc Corazao has been serving in ministry in the North Texas Conference since 1996 in various capacities and ministry positions, including ministry with youth and families, ministry with those in poverty, and ministry with college students. He is particularly passionate about exploring community, calling, and life with God among people of all ages as we listen for God’s voice together. Marc currently serves as the Associate Pastor at FUMC Lewisville, TX.
Rev. Ricky Harrison – Web Coordinator
Ricky Harrison serves as the Associate Pastor at FUMC Decatur, TX. He first went to Proyecto Abrigo with his parents at the age of 6 and has been returning to Juarez multiple times a year ever since. Ricky spent a summer in high school working in Juarez for Proyecto Abrigo full time and has led several hodgepodge multi-generational teams in recent years to refurnish the dorms and build homes. Having recently returned to Texas after spending three years in North Carolina at Duke Divinity School, Ricky is looking forward to leading new teams of people to experience God’s great work through the ministries of Proyecto Abrigo.
A native Texan, Oscar grew up in Abilene where he attended Abilene Christian Academy and Abilene Christian University. He has spent 25 years in the healthcare industry and is National Manager of Client Services at GENEX Services LLC. Oscar Brown is a member of Kessler Park United Methodist Church in Dallas Texas where he serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Oscar is active with KPUMC’s community outreach ministries including The Well, Jacobs House, and the Hillcrest House. He is a member of Credo, an ecumenical choir that works with the Dallas homeless community and the Dallas Street Choir. His first trip to Juarez was in December 2013 and he has made multiple trips back since with several groups from KPUMC where the ladies of the church have a created an Angel network, buying new shoes and making dresses for the little girls and young ladies to send with Oscar each trip. Oscar lives with his best friend and partner in crime – Truman – who is an 80lb Lab/Sheppard mix.